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Profile: Author Helen Smith’s ‘Men On Strike’

Men Are ‘On Strike’ Throughout The U.S.: What Are The Causes?

psychologist and blogger Helen Smith

Psychologist and blogger Helen Smith

Editor’s note: I am currently reading this book, and hope to post a review soon. In the meantime, check out this Forbes Magazine item by Jerry Bowyer,  featuring author Helen Smith

Jerry Bowyer writes: I haven’t seen my copy of Men On Strike for several weeks. I kept careful watch on the book until I finished interviewing her, but after that it disappeared into the Bowyer-Family-Book-Sharing Vortex from which it has not yet emerged. That’s because it is an easy read about a topic which is interesting in both a social science theory way, and in a figuring out how to get by in the current world kind of way.

Men on Strike is pretty much what the title says it is, a book about how many men have decided not to participate in certain areas of life, most notably in school, family, and increasingly in work. What separates the work of Helen Smith, a psychologist who deals with men like the ones she writes about in her book, is the lack of scoldiness that you might find in the similar work of say Kay Hymowitz’ Manning Up. For Smith, the men are in large part acting rationally. They’re more John Galt than they are Peter Pan. The book could as well have been titled Andros Shrugged, if ancient Greek titles sold books.

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Camille Paglia: ‘It’s a Man’s World, And It Always Will Be’

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The modern economy is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role—but women were not its author

 writes: If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct—unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where females will clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks, and pit vipers.

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.

Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.

From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. InFrance, Italy, Spain, Latin America, and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamor. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.

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The Triumph of the Maternalists

The new paternalism is so nonconfrontational, anti-ideological, and unwilling to claim moral authority that it can hardly be called “paternal.” Let’s call it “maternalism”…

maternalism

Nancy McDermott looks at the cultural assault on masculinity

‘Nanny and Sammy followed their mother’s instructions without a murmur; indeed, they were overawed. There is a certain uncanny and superhuman quality about all such purely original undertakings as their mother’s was to them. Nanny went back and forth with her light loads, and Sammy tugged with sober energy.’  (From ‘The Revolt of Mother’ by Mary E Wilkins (1)).

“…what we are seeing today is the dismantling of the historic gains of the Enlightenment in the name of The Mother”

The idea for this essay began percolating about a year ago, when I reviewed Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men. She made the case that women are achieving parity with men and even surpassing them in a number of important ways. Although I didn’t quite buy all her explanations, I liked Rosin’s book and was sorry to see so many reviewers dismiss it in what seemed like a rush to reiterate the persistence of women’s oppression. I thought her observations were reasonable, but more importantly they seemed to throw the contours of something else into relief, something beyond gender roles. It was only when I began to look at the question of paternalism that it dawned on me what this might be.

Paternalism has emerged as the dominant form of authoritarianism in our society. Across the world, policymakers are quietly working behind the scenes to save us from ourselves, nudging us towards Jerusalem with smaller fast-food cups, architecture intended to make us climb more stairs, and maternity wards that encourage bonding and breastfeeding. These policies are seldom debated or even noticed. When they are, the routine argument is not whether they are a good idea but how ‘hard’ or openly coercive should they be. Why value autonomy at all when people, left to their own devices, continually make poor choices that foil their aspirations and create a social burden in the process?

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Hookup Culture: Men Benefit, Women Screwed. This is ‘Empowerment’?

hookups

Women say they’re happy having no-strings sex, but new research casts doubt on how ’empowering’ casual hookups really feel.

Peggy Drexler writes:  In the current season of Parenthood, Berkeley freshman Drew develops a crush on a girl in his dorm. He tells her how he feels, but she hems and haws; she doesn’t seem interested, though she tells him she “likes him as a friend.” But then sometime later she shows up at his door, tipsy, and kisses him—she is the clear aggressor— before they retreat off camera to likely do more that we don’t see (this is network TV, after all). The next day, Drew wants to talk about their “relationship.” She tells him she’s not after anything serious, and sweetly says, “You understand, don’t you?” He doesn’t; not at all.

It’s clear that the show’s writers have created this character dynamic to represent the shift in gender roles among high school and college students, in which the modern young woman eschews tedious relationships in favor of far more “liberated” casual hookups. This is a phenomenon that has been widely documented, most recently in writer Kate Taylor’s New York Times story called “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too,” which echoed a 2012 piece by Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic called “Boys on the Side.” In both pieces, the writers chronicled a number of women (Taylor’s at the University of Pennsylvania, Rosin’s at Yale): smart, pretty, and most of all, independent women who use casual sex for pleasure in a way once monopolized by men. They sleep with guys but don’t date them. They talk almost clinically about the “‘cost-benefit’ analyses and the ‘low risk and low investment costs’ of hooking up.” Hooking up is about satisfying a physical need, and nothing more. Read the rest of this entry »


Bookforum: Let’’s Shut Up About Sex

victorian-courtship (1)

Cristina Nehring writes:  Last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review is called “Let’s Read About Sex,” and apparently it’s caused a small stir. This is ironic because we’re at a stage in literary debate where the most original thing we could do with sex just might be to shut up about it.

We live at a moment where most lovers would be more ashamed to let on that their sex-style was (gasp!) “vanilla” than that it broke a couple of teeth. Married people are far more likely to feel guilty for not having enough sex than for having too much. “Regular sex is a part of every healthy life-style!” we are told everywhere, often in the same pages that we’re told to eat our vegetables, and by the same parties who instruct us to get cardiovascular exercise. Only the sex advice is more binding than the rest: When we skip out on a gym session or a serving of broccoli we can at least feel a little mischievous, a little naughty. If we skip a serving of sex, we only feel like a big bore, a stick in the mud. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, most people would far rather be considered evil than dull.

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